With 97 years in tow, the Russian Zinaída Kórnieva, veteran of World War II, looks out every day to her blog in order to raise money for the families of the doctors killed in a battle no less bloody, the battle against the coronavirus.
“Dear friends! Here again with you as every day Zinaída Antónovna (patronymic of Kórnieva). Today I am going to tell you a story about …”, starts the blog that already has thousands of followers around the world.
Sitting on a wooden bench with her medals to her chest, Kórnieva mishears, but she looks at the camera with unusual confidence and has stories to give and take. Originally from the Urals (1922), she participated in the Battle of Stalingrad (1942) at just 19 years old and even reached Berlin.
MONEY FOR DEAD PHYSICIANS
He assures from his dacha (country house) on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg that he will not give up on his efforts until he reaches his goal, to raise at least 3 million rubles (almost 40,000 euros), a figure that is about to be reached.
The initial objective was to raise 300,000 rubles (less than 4,000 euros) to help the families of ten doctors killed in the old Tsarist capital, but the success of the initiative has exceeded all expectations.
“Doctors face an even tougher war, since the virus is invisible and unpredictable (an enemy)!” He told Efe by videoconference.
Her daughter and granddaughter are doctors, so she is very aware of the difficulties that health personnel are going through in Russia, where, according to independent sources, 152 people have already died, several of them in Saint Petersburg.
“Because of my age, I have had many operations and illnesses. The doctors have always treated me very well. I am very sorry for the doctors who fight against this virus that can infect and kill them,” he says.
She recently underwent hip surgery at St. Petersburg Hospital for war veterans, and learning that two doctors had died of the coronavirus at that institution had a profound impact on her and her family.
INSPIRED BY TOM MOORE
But what inspired her to launch a blog was the story of another English war veteran, Tom Moore, who turned 100 on April 30 and raised millions of pounds to help British doctors go around his garden a hundred times with the help of a walker.
Kórnieva dedicated a video to him and promised him as a birthday gift to sew “from Russia with love” some socks for the winter, which he already sent by express mail.
“Together we defeated Fascism in 1945 and now together we fight the virus. I cannot promise that I will go around my garden a hundred times, since I have not left home for a long time, but I promise to tell stories every day about the war and my life. Together we will win! “he assured.
Since then, the Russian “babushka” has not missed her daily appointment with her blog.
“I do not invent anything. I only count what I saw during the war,” he says.
A DAILY BLOG
Kórnieva is an innate storyteller. Whether experiences with her as the protagonist or stories starring her friends, the rawness of the episodes is intertwined with the liveliness of the story.
“It was 2 in the morning when the field telephone operator woke us up to tell us that the war was over. We were on the outskirts of Berlin. We went out into the street, sang, danced, kissed and shot into the air with our rifles,” he says. .
For this reason, according to her granddaughter, she receives comments and thanks every day from many western countries, where they appreciate that their stories delve into daily stories of the war and do not meddle in political or ideological questions.
She admits that she is nervous and that she is arguing with her granddaughter about how to best formulate the sentences, but she is not afraid of the camera or the coronavirus.
“I am no longer afraid of anything. I am going to be 98 years old. If I was not afraid of anything when I was young, now at any moment I am already going there” (the other world), he assures.
Due to the pandemic, Kórnieva, like other veterans of the Great Patriotic War, as the war in the post-Soviet space is known, was unable to see the Victory Day military parade held every May 9, as it was cancelled.
“They did the right thing. In this time we live, the party had to be canceled. We will defeat the virus and we will still have time to celebrate the victory,” he says.
She still remembers when a typhus epidemic hit the Soviet Union when she was “between 8 and 9 years old.”
“I remember a lot of people getting typhus. You could see the coffins in front of my house,” he says.
THE PANDEMIC, WORSE THAN THE WAR
As an exceptional witness, he believes that “on a large scale the war was worse” than COVID-19, but acknowledges that “nothing compares” to a pandemic, which has already infected 200,000 Russians and killed almost 2,000.
“No one expected such a thing. The virus has spread everywhere. It is not comparable to anything we have experienced before,” she admits ruefully.
Therefore, he appeals to military discipline to defeat this evil that has brought humanity to its knees as Hitler did with Europe in the war.
“If we succeed in winning the war, we will surely also win this battle against the epidemic. In due course, we all unite to defeat Fascism. Now, we must all unite to defeat the coronavirus,” he proclaims.
Overnight he has become a celebrity. There is already a request for him to receive a state medal and in St. Petersburg the authorities dedicated a large poster to him on the eve of May 9.
“At first I did not expect to raise that much money. Now I am very grateful to the Russians. So: Thank you very much!” She said.